AIG exec quits over bonus issue

In a letter sent to the company's CEO, and published in the New York Times, one employee explains why the furor about the bonuses led him to resign.


Alex Koppelman
March 25, 2009 8:40PM (UTC)

Throughout the scandal over the $165 million in bonuses paid out by AIG, we've heard very little from the employees themselves. Considering their pariah status, they've probably had good reason to stay quiet -- plus, it's not as if people have been clamoring to hear their side of the story.

Wednesday's New York Times, though, has an unusual kind of op-ed, actually a resignation letter written by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of AIG's financial products unit, and sent to the company's CEO on Tuesday. I don't know how many people it will convince at this point, especially given many Americans' distrust of Wall Street types, but it's worth reading in full.

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An excerpt:

I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in -- or responsible for -- the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company -- during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 -- we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

You and I have never met or spoken to each other, so I’d like to tell you about myself. I was raised by schoolteachers working multiple jobs in a world of closing steel mills. My hard work earned me acceptance to M.I.T., and the institute’s generous financial aid enabled me to attend. I had fulfilled my American dream...

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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